[OUTLOOK]Good business schools needed

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[OUTLOOK]Good business schools needed

Our country’s economy has recently grown to 10th in the world in gross national product and 12th in world trade. But seeing business managers who run this economy, I wonder how many managers of international standing our country has.
An excellent manager is not born overnight. One needs to go through a thorough management education and build decades of experience in the fields before he or she is born as a global business manager. Is our country well equipped for such training and education for managers? I don’t think so. Above all, we have poor programs for master of business administration degrees, which are the first step to foster excellent business managers.
The Financial Times based in Britain announces the ranking of graduate schools of business administration across the world every year. Among the world’s top 50 business schools, 32 schools come from the United States, five from England, four from Canada, three from Spain, two from China and one from Singapore, while none come from our country. Of course, we may get some consolation from the fact that Japan, the second largest economy, and Germany, the third largest economy in the world, have no business school that rank among the top 50. But the fact that China, whose per capita national income is a mere 11th of ours, and Singapore, whose economic scale is about a sixth of ours and whose population is just three million people, have a business school that belongs to the world’s top 50 makes us feel ashamed.
Upon closer scrutiny, in fact, the faculty of our country’s business schools and the quality of students are at a high standard. A while ago, I happened to see faculty profiles of a graduate school of business administration at a prestigious university in Seoul. Except for a professor who received his doctoral degree in history of the Korean economy from a domestic university, all the faculty members graduated from prestigious universities throughout the world, where any young people who considered studying abroad might have dreamed of studying.
Moreover, this business school was at a university where only top class students in Korea could enter. If so, why doesn’t our country, when it has excellent professors and students, have a graduate school of business administration that belongs to the world’s top 50?
One of the biggest reasons is thought to be the education authorities’ various regulations on colleges and universities. It is true that until now, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development has had regulations and directions throughout the entire area of administration of colleges, including their establishment, student admissions and tuition pricing. According to Education Ministry data, 185 regulations exist in this area.
But this number of regulations is only what is known outside, and a college official complained that because of regulations, there was almost nothing that colleges could decide autonomously. A representative stumbling block to colleges was said to be regulations and practices about tuition fees. Although tuition is formally at the discretion of college presidents, the education authorities actually suggest certain guidelines and colleges follow them.
As a consequence, the tuition fees of our business schools are a mere fifth of those of famous business schools in the United States and such low tuition fees have eventually led to low-quality education.
Now our students should demand a proper education and more scholarships by increasing the tuition rather than being keen on posting posters against the increase of tuition which are popular on campuses these days.
Our country has nationwide interest in specialized medical or law schools but is indifferent to business schools that train professional managers who will lead our economy. Even if they cannot support business schools, the education authorities should at least free them from the fetters of regulations so that they can develop autonomously and independently.
Germany and Japan, where colleges were heavily regulated, are now also moving in the direction of allowing greater autonomy to colleges. Germany, which financed the operations of colleges from general revenues alone, has pursued reform based on the models of prestigious private universities in the United States.
Japan has also introduced management techniques of the private sector to the operations of colleges. In our country, numerous students who dream of becoming a business manager in the future go abroad to have management training.
How long will we continue contracting out the education of future managers by sending so many students to the U.S. business schools? Even from now on, we should be equipped with a business school system suitable for our economic size and get rid of the stigma of producing managers at overseas schools as soon as possible.
We should see that a first step is to exclude the Education Ministry from interfering with business schools.

* The writer is the chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the International Chamber of Commerce. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Park Yong-sung
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